Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
on Standards and Privileges from the Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP
Last week during my appearance at the Committee you
were good enough to invite me to present a memorandum after I
had an opportunity to read the transcripts of Mr Rowley's and
Mr Rafferty's interviews. I now do so.
In view of the time limitations, I have confined
myself to two areasthe alleged "improper arrangements"
and the alleged "threats and pressures".
I have denied any "improper arrangement".
Mr Rowley is the only witness who alleges such an arrangement.
And yet the transcript reveals him to be, confused, contradictory
or in ignorance of almost all and any of the detail of the supposed
"arrangements" which he alleges he was party to and
central to. Even exposure to the actual facts of the matter fails
to shake Mr Rowley's "beliefs". He cannot in all fairness
be regarded as a reliable or credible witness. His evidence forms
no basis for Ms Filkin's upholding of the complaint.
This obviously must have some bearing on Mr Rowley's
reliability and credibility when it comes to his allegations of
"threats" and "pressures". I, and others mentioned
by Mr Rowley, have categorically denied these allegations. Again
the transcript shows himself to be vague, tentative, and contradictory
over both the nature and the circumstances of the alleged threats
which he "perceived" himself to be subject to. In at
least one case his allegation is not just denied but also verifiably
untrue. I find it difficult to believe that these unsubstantiated
allegations, made in this fashion could form any fair basis for
such a damaging and defamatory section of Ms Filkin's report.
Finally, I regret that I have to bring to your attention
yet another press article. You will know that throughout this
enquiry that John Maxton and I have been concerned both at the
appearance of press articles and at the apparent access which
Mr Nelson, the journalist and complainant, has apparently had
to detailed knowledge of information arising out of the enquiry.
He has continually briefed journalistic colleagues. Last Thursday
I was informed that Mr Nelson had again been briefing journalists
in Scotland regarding Ms Filkin's report and last week's developments.
On Friday my office received several calls and refused, as always
to comment. Yesterday the enclosed article
appeared in the Scottish National Newspaper. I would merely say,
once again, that both John Maxton and myself are being subjected
to trial by newspaper.
13 November 2000
(1) I have already outlined the facts
concerning my conversations with Mr Rowley. In April 1998 I told
colleagues (Mr Rowley was not present) that Kevin Reid (who had
been working part-time with me while completing his second University
degree) would be finishing his university classes, and would therefore
have free time and might be prepared to undertake the establishment
of media monitoring for the Labour Party. I then spoke to Kevin
who was willing to do so, combining this with his part-time work
for me. I then spoke to the Fees Office who indicated there was
no problem with this. I only then spoke to Mr Rowley. I had several
snatched conversations with him indicating that Kevin would be
willing to do this, could be extremely flexible in his working
hours, and wanted to help. I indicated also that he would have
to have a separate part-time contract and payment from the Labour
Party. Thus, Kevin started by working the 15 contracted hours
and after about 2-3 months volunteered a couple of hours extra
to include the lunch time news. At that stageprior to going
on to cover the evening news broadcastsI started to insist
that if the work demands on him continue to grow that he must
work exclusively for the Labour Party. I pointed to a newspaper
report to reinforce my insistence. Kevin was put onto a full-time
contract 7 months before the election as media monitoring was
being extended to cover evening and late broadcasts.
(2) Though it was clear that Kevin wished
to help the Party, there was no agreement that he would work a
set number of extra hours above contract, or work "full-time"
(whatever that may have meant) for Labour. Nor was there ever
any indication, implicit or explicit, that this would be at the
expense of his work for me or that Kevin would not have to do
his work for me.
(3) The only person who feels "clear"
that there was such an "improper arrangement" is Mr
Rowley. Every other witness takes a different view. As the transcript
shows Mr Rowley himself is in fact not clear at all on any aspect
of the "arrangement" he postulates. This is not surprising.
There was no such arrangement. He can only persist in his view
because he is both ignorant of many of the relevant facts, and
confused on most of the others. The transcript of his interview
shows this to be the case beyond any reasonable doubt.
(4) Mr Rowley did not know, for instance,
that Kevin Reid had been working for me for years previously.
He is asked:
"When the arrangements were made KR was already
working for JR was he not?
AR: I don't know. I don't think so. To be honest
I don't know." (Transcript paragraph 256)
"Do you know whether he working for JR before
AR: No. My understanding was he had completed, or
almost completed, university..."
Thus on the matter of my employment of Kevin Reid,
surely an aspect that would have been central to any supposed
arrangementMr Rowley is clearly in ignorance. He believed,
wronglyand perhaps still doesthat I was taking Kevin
Reid on to the Fees Office payroll for the first time, purely
for the Parliamentary campaign. This was clearly not the case,
but if he believed at the time that this is what was being done
(and still appears to believe so) it must inevitably colour his
perception of our conversations.
(5) Mr Rowley is vague and contradictory
over his definition of "full-time". He has insisted
that the supposed "arrangement" was that Kevin Reid
would work "full time". He never defines full-time.
It is merely what he "views" as being full-time. (I
have insisted throughout that, while working for me, Kevin Reid's
hours did not amount to anything like the hours which would be
expected of full-time Labour staff.) Mr Rowley confirms this beyond
doubt, when he clearly states that Kevin's hours were not even
as great as those of the part-time Chris Winslow. In doing so,
Mr Rowley also makes it clear from his evidence that he has various
versions of what "full-time" actually means. In response
to a question by Mr Foster
"what was full-time in your definition",
Mr Rowley replies
"full-time in terms of Chris Winslow was certainly
a lot more hours than Kevin Reid". (Paragraph 179)
In other words, "full-time" means anything
AR wants it to mean with any person in any place at any time,
even if their hours were completely different. "Full-time"
for Mr Rowley varies from time to time, person to person, and
even time to time with the same person throughout this evidence
in this interview and that previously given.
(6) He did not know (and still doesn't)
what hours Kevin Reid was actually working for the Labour
Party during the early months, when he was effectively working
no more that the contracted 15 hours. Asked about this, he says:
"Once we moved into Delta House it was easy
to assess...(hours worked)." (Paragraph 183)
"Once we moved...into Delta House, Kevin would
be there very early to prepare the morning briefs and would leave...
around 1.00 or 1.30." (Paragraph 179)
However, the move into Delta House did not take place
until September, whereas Kevin had started with the Labour
Party on 25th May. As I have said all along, for the first few
months he was in fact working his contracted 3 hours a day. It
was only after this period, with the move to Delta House, that
he started to cover lunchtime bulletins. It was precisely at that
time that I made it plain that any further extension of his hours
would require a full-time contract. This happened within 6 weeks
of my demand. Mr Rowley's answers illustrate that he does not
have any detailed knowledge of Kevin's hours during that May-September
period when he was working the lower number of hours.
(7) He did not (and does not) know in
any detail the nature of that Labour Party work, how it was
established or built up. His fullest description is to say:
", the media monitor simply notices the media
the whole time and was writing that up..." (Paragraph
This is, to say the least, a simplistic generalisation
of how media monitoring was built up in content, systems, technology
and hours during the first six months when Kevin Reid established
(8) He did not know whether Kevin was
actually working for me, or what he was doing for me. He says:
"...Kevin went home in the evenings and at the
weekends. I cannot say how he spent his evenings or his weekends".
Later he confirms this when he says:
"...I do not know what these people did in their
spare time..." and:
"...what they did in the evenings themselves
I do not know. I have to acknowledge that..." (Paragraph
However, this completely contradicts what he said
earlier, when he refused to acknowledge precisely this point.
Referring to Chris Winslow and Kevin Reid he said (at paragraph
"I was absolutely clear that neither of the
two were working for MPs..."
Of course, he was wrong, on anther point on which
he claimed to be "absolutely clear". The evidence has
shown that. But these conflicting answers only illustrate the
confused and unreliable nature of Mr Rowley's evidence.
(7) He also appears confused also over
Kevin Reid's eventual hours for the Labour Party. It is undisputed
and accepted by everyone involved that, while he was still working
for me, Kevin Reid left the Labour Party by about 1.30 pm-2 pm.
Mr Rowley initially confirms this:
"Kevin...would leave after lunchtime...which
would be around about 1-1.30 pm." (Paragraph 179)
However, he later contradicts himself, saying
"I have said to you Kevin went home in the evenings
and at weekends. I cannot say how he spent his evenings or his
weekends". (Emphasis added) (Paragraph 201)
(9) Mr Rowley is, in turn, confused,
ill-informed and wrong regarding Suzanne Hilliard.
(10) He did not know initially that Suzanne
Hilliard worked for me. He says:
"...of her arrangement with John Reid I am not
sure..." (Paragraph 201)
(11) He believed, wrongly, that Suzanne Hilliard
was employed by the Labour Party. He says:
"Suzanne Hilliard, I cannot go into much detail"
but he immediately goes on to assert
"she was employed by the Labour Party".
He was asked again: "...she was employed by
the Labour Party or was working as a volunteer?"
AR: "She was employed...What I do know is that
I would have been involved in any of her employment and in decisions
that were taken to employ her but I simply cannot remember the
details of that... I would have been the person who employed her,
but I do not know what arrangements were put in place for her".
(12) Mr Rowley then become even more confused
about the supposed arrangement for Suzanne Hilliard. He is
asked by Mr Williams (at paragraph 239)
"You said she was employed by the Party. Are
you absolutely sure of that?"
AR: "No. I am note sure...I am making an assumption"
In paragraph 240 "...you are using the
AR: "I am making an assumption we employed her".
(13) He did not know whether Suzanne Hilliard
was being paid by the Labour Party. When asked who would have
authorised payment and would he not need to know someone was being
taken on the books, Mr Rowley replied "yes". (Paragraph
"...in that case were you told she was being
AR: "I really do not have a clear memory of
SH. Whatever the arrangement was I accept responsibility for them
because obviously I would have been responsible but I am not clear".
(14) Mr Rowley did not know that my constituency
Secretary was unavailable for work for a six month period:
"John Reid has told me since that his constituency
secretary was off ill" (Paragraph 210)
(15) Mr Rowley assumed, wrongly, that Suzanne
had a contract with the Labour Party. In paragraph 243:
"As a good employer would the Labour Party in Scotland give
contracts of employment to staff?"
"Would there not be a contract of employment
AR: "Yes, if you have worked for the Labour
Party." (In paragraph 244)
"If you worked for the Labour Party you would
be on record and would be given a contract?"
AR: "Yes. She certainly worked for the Labour
Party." (Paragraph 245)
"You cannot say for certain whether there is
or not? ...you are not sure whether one exists or not?"
AR: "No. It has never been put to me before
that there was not a contract (my emphasis). My assumption has
always been SH worked for us and was paid by us. I really am grey
on this area because I really do not remember any details of Suzanne's
employment". (Paragraph 246)
(16) So, Mr Rowley, the only person who claims
to be "clear" that there was an improper arrangement
and, presumably would have been central to it, knows no details
of Kevin Reid's initial hours or work, nothing about his work
for me, or that he had previously worked for me. He has an elastic
definition of "full-time". He believeswronglythat
SH was employed by the Labour Party. He thinks wrongly that she
had a contract with the Labour Party. He thinks wrongly that he
employed her. He does not know what "arrangement" she
had with me.
(17) Moreover, quite apart from the details
on the Labour Party side of the alleged "arrangement"
the transcript show that Mr Rowley knew nothing of the external
circumstances concerning the work for, and regulations of the
House of Commons.
(18) He did not know that I had consulted
the Fees Office, clarified the issue and cleared Kevin working
for the Labour Party with the Fees office.
(19) He did not know (and still does not know)
what the Fees Office regulations are and that they fully permit
the situation which he finds "improper". At paragraph
172 he says:
"My view was very clear we had broken the rules.
We had undoubtedly broken the rules."
However, Mr Levitt posed a question to him at paragraph
"...in fact the rules do not say that it is
wrong; it is only wrong if the duty to the MP is not being discharged...",
and Mr Rowley confesses,
"...what I am saying is only my opinion. I do
not know what the rules actually state on this."
(20) In any case, when the Fees office rules
are explained to him, he still "believes" they are wrong
and he is right. The "arrangement" is improper because
he, Mr Rowley believes it to be improper.
"...I do not know what the rules actually state
on this. It is my opinionhaving known what people have
gone through in the last number of months in this particular investigation,
and knowing the practices we did operateI think it is an
area that certainly should be looked at because I think it is
a grey area. Knowing what I know now, I would say that the Party
centrally should not employ people who are also employed with
MPs (my emphasis) because it is difficult. That is a personal
opinion I have given you..."
(21) Mr Rowley is emphatic in his wrong "beliefs"
as he has been all along. Thus, he says in Paragraph 171.
"...you do not employ people with a political
party that are also employed by individual members of the House
of Commons...because there is clearly a conflict between the two.
That was the argument I had with John Reid when this thing
first broke." (my emphasis).
(22) And again he is emphatic in his wrong
"beliefs" regarding the regulations at paragraph
"Are you saying that the very fact that they
were employed by Members of Parliament, and being paid part of
their salary through the Office Costs Allowance should debar them
from working for the Labour Party?
(Mr Rowley) Certainly I believe that is the case".
It becomes clear from this exchange that Mr Rowley's
"belief" that the rules have been broken is not premised
on his knowledge of the rules, or whether they have in fact been
broken, but the rules which he believes should be in place
have been somehow broken. It is a belief to which he clings irrespective
of the actual rules, the actual circumstances, or the actual facts.
It is this "belief" on which the "improper arrangement",
which never existed alone hangs.
(23) Here it is clear that Mr Rowley is confusing
two different things. On the one hand, his personal and strongly
held view (to which he is entitled) as to whether, as a matter
of policy, the Labour Party should allow MP's staff to assist
them, and the quite separate question as to whether they legitimately
could do so under the existing House of Commons rules. Unfortunately,
throughout this interview (and the whole investigation) he has
allowed his beliefs about the former to blind him to the facts
about the latter. To Mr Rowley any "arrangement" was
"improper" because he believed it to be improperever
since, in ignorance of both the Fees Office rules and the reality
of my staffs workhe was told by Mr Nelson that he had been
engaged in impropriety.
(24) Finally, Mr Rowley, having alleged the
same "improper arrangement" was established with me
and (via AMW) with John Maxton, then completely contradicts
himself by saying the following (in paragraph 169)
"When I was not long into the post the first
person who we started to make use ofif that is the correct
word to usewas Chris Winslow. Basically how that arrangement
came about was the office manager of the Labour Party in ScotlandAMWapproached
me to say that Chris Winslow had left university, did not have
a post and John Maxton would be willing to take him on and we
would be able to use him full-time provided we were able to pay
a part-time salary to make it up to a full-time salary. That was
how that first came about. Following on from that, a similar arrangement
was made for Kevin Reid. That was how it came about."
Annmarie Whyte has, of course, denied any such arrangement.
However, the material point in the transcript is that Mr Rowley
goes on later to say, (in paragraph 169) in regard to this
same "arrangement", which was "similar" in
"I genuinely believe that, for example, take
John Maxton, I do not believe that John Maxton for a second thought
he was really in serious breach of any rules".
"In the early days I think John Maxton genuinely
did not believe he was breaking any rules. There was certainly
never any suggestion of that."
I am more than happy to confirm Mr Rowley's view
of Mr Maxton. However, it seems strange that Mr Rowley, who earlier
in the transcript alleges that the very same improper arrangement
with improper motives was established by John Maxton and myself,
now, for reasons known to himself, extends to Mr Maxton an innocence
which he seems curiously reluctant to extend to me.
I have denied all along any actions which breached
the rules of the Fees Office, misled the Fees Office or misused
Public monies. Ms Filkin's report already concedes that no such
arrangements were put into effect, but suggests that that is immaterial,
that Mr Rowley's accusation alone is sufficient to sustain the
case that such an "improper arrangement" was made, even
if never acted upon. Mr Rowley's transcript on its own illustrates
beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr Rowley is neither a reliable
or credible witness on this matter. The accusation of an "improper
arrangement" cannot be sustained either in terms of an "arrangement"
or in terms of "impropriety". No such arrangement was
ever given effect to. No such arrangement was ever made. The complaint
cannot be upheld on any reasonable or rational grounds.
(1) Mr Rowley's obvious unreliability
and lack of credibility on this now unsubstantiated assertion
about an "improper arrangement" must cast doubt on his
reliability and lack of credibility on his allegation of "threats"
(2) I have denied in any way threatening
Mr Rowley or saying to him anything which could reasonably be
interpreted as a threat during our conversations.
(3) The context of these conversations
is important. Firstly, every contact I have had with Mr Rowley
to discuss these matters has been at his behest, not mine. During
the 10 months of this investigation I have spoken to him only
at his initiative. We have had, to my recollection, three conversations.
(4) The first was around the time that
the newspaper story broke. Mr Rowley was in a panic. He said
that the journalist Mr Nelson had been on to him. He had told
him that we had acted against the rules. Nelson had threatened
him with having to give evidence in court, under oath. Mr Rowley
said he would have to "tell the truth". I told him not
to worry, he did not have the full picture, I had made sure that
everything was above board and proper. He didn't know the facts
or the background, but had no need to worry.
(5) Mr Rowley then appears to have had
several conversations with the Journalist Mr Nelson and others,
and then approached me in a hotel during the Scottish Conference
on the 10th March. My recollection is this. He told me he
had been asked to see the Commissioner, that he would "have
to tell the truth". Again I told him that I did not have
a problem with that. He said that "some people" were
saying that he was out to damage me. There were rumours to that
effect and "some people" were saying that that if he
did "tell the truth" and it damaged me, then he would
not be endorsed as a candidate. I told him that I did not believe
that he was out to damage me, and despite the circumstances of
his departure from the Labour Party I hoped that he would not
be. I told him he must tell the truth, but that it must be "the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". I again
told him that he knew little or nothing about the circumstances,
the rules or the reality of my staff's employment, and though
we didn't have time that day I would be glad to tell him the full
circumstances which would re-assure him. I had done nothing wrong.
He knew nothing about the rules, the facts or the reality of my
employees work. He should tell the truth, but should not speculate
about things he didn't know. If he did speculate in an attempt
to damage me, for whatever motive, then he knew that he wouldn't
be telling the truth, but telling lies. Moreover, if he went into
the realm of speculating or telling lies to damage me, suggesting
that we were involved in some sort of criminal activity, then
he would certainly damage me as a consequence of those lies, but
he would damage himself as well. The conversation was polite and
courteous. Mr Rowley appeared perfectly happy at the end of it.
Shortly afterwards that day he confirmed this by telling Lesley
Quinn that it had been a good and friendly meeting. (See statement
by Lesley Quinn)
(6) The third conversation took place
on the telephone after Mr Rowley had phoned Lesley Quinn for advice
and I received a pager call (supplied to Ms Filkin) saying simply,
"please phone Alex Rowley" and giving a telephone number.
(Supplied to Ms Filkin.) I was surprised to find when I phoned
that there was no answer but I left my telephone number. Mr Rowley
who was presumably monitoring the call with the intention of phoning
me back and surreptitiously tape recording the call did so a little
later. The Committee has a transcript of that call. To me, Mr
Rowley appeared to be seeking my advice or information on certain
points, disputing others, leading on some questions and presumablyin
retrospecttrying to get me to incriminate myself in some
way. At no stage did I know that I was being recorded.
(7) Mr Rowley told Ms Filkin the following
day, 21st March, that he had been "threatened" and that
he had recorded a telephone conversation with me. Ms Filkin did
not inform me of this fact. On the 19th May, Ms Filkin sent me
a "transcript" of her interview with Mr Rowley. However,
she changed the last section from transcript to summary, thus
concealing from me the factwhich she had known for 3 monthsthat
my conversation had been tape recorded. In the accompanying questions
she asked me whether I had any conversations with Mr Rowley which
had included anything which might be interpreted by him as threats.
Again, she concealed the fact that she was aware that I had had
a conversation with him on the 20th March and that that call had
been tape recorded by Mr Rowley. Ms Filkin only revealed to me
both the fact that the call had been recorded and the transcript
of the call to me, the day after the final date of my submission
to her in July. I had thus no detailed recollection of the call
until I saw the transcript.
(8) So far as I can see the nature of the
"threats" is supposed to be two-fold.
A. That I mentioned his possible non-endorsement
as a candidate; and
B. That I mentioned the possibility of police
The only occasions I can recollect the first subject
being mentioned was during the conversation in the hotel in Edinburgh
after AR had informed me that "some people" were out
to say he wanted to damage me and that "some people"
were saying he might not be endorsed as a candidate if he were
to be "tell the truth" to Ms Filkin. In other words
under the heading of "some people" it was AR who introduced
the question of his endorsement. It was also in the context that
"I have to tell the truth".
I told him that truth had to be nothing but the truth
and if he was to start speculating and making allegations about
things about which he did not know (and the previous note shows
how much he did not know and how damaging his ignorance could
be) that would not be the truth that that would be a lie: and
the effect of his lies would not only be they were wrong in themselves
but that they would be (precisely as it turned out) wrongly suggesting
that he and I were engaging in something that was wrong and it
would damage us both since I was an MP and he was wanting to be
That is the sum total of my recollection. Unfortunately
Mr Rowley seems to have a different interpretation based on what
he said happened on different occasions and his claims seem to
be a "moveable feast".
(9) In his transcript, Mr Rowley confirms
that he made the approach to me in the Hotel lobby. (There
were of course witnesses including another MP.)
"I had gone into the hotel and John was sitting
with a couple of his advisers and his assistant from his constituency.
I asked to speak to him." (Paragraph 151)
(10) He also confirms what I previously said
about his concern about what "some people" were saying.
"I was a bit concerned about the way things
were going. Some rumours". (Paragraph 151)
He then adds: "We sat down and talked through
the issues and it was at that point that John said to me if I
was to comment to the Commissioner any wrong doing and he did
not and he was cleared of any wrongdoing then I could face criminal
prosecution... That was basically what I perceived to be
a threat." (my emphasis).
It is interesting that Mr Rowley should now phrase
this as his "perceiving" himself to be threatened, rather
than actually being threatened.
I have tried to give Mr Rowley the benefit of the
doubt. I have struggled to imagine what, if anything could
have been said that caused Mr Rowley to understand something in
a fairly straightforward conversation as a threat. I cannot think
of anything which could have been misinterpreted.
It is inconceivable that I would have raised the
prospect of "criminal" prosecution, since like any member
I am fully aware that breaches of House rules are dealt with under
the House procedures. It is hardly less conceivable that I would
have raised criminal prosecution for libel. In any case, we are
all aware the matter is covered by privilege.
Is conceivable, though unlikely, that I could have
referred to him, by speculating and in effect lying, and thus
implying that we were both involved in a criminal conspiracy.
However, Mr Rowley's own statement rules that out since he alleges
that the threat was couched in terms of me being cleared.
This makes it more confusing. I would hardly have
spoken in terms of a one-man conspiracy, by definition an impossibility.
(11) I know that I didn't threaten Mr Rowley,
but I am also at a loss as to what he could possibly have "perceived"
as a threat. The only explanation, if malevolent accusation
is discounted is that Mr Rowley has misunderstood or become confused
something said to him.
(12) Mr Rowley himself however is never entirely
clear what the "threat" was supposed to be. In paragraph
218, he puts it this way.
"... He said to me something along the lines
of: if I admit any wrongdoing, and he does not and he is clear,
I could face criminal prosecution." (emphasis added).
It appears that Mr Rowley has difficulty in recalling
what the threat that so disturbed him actually was.
(13) Apparently, Mr Rowley also had difficulty
initially in deciding whether he had been threatened or not.
"... I spoke to friends after it. I was very,
very concerned at that prospect and spoke to friends about that
and decided, yes, that was a threat." (Paragraph 219)
(14) This is reinforced by his own words at
committee. They seem considerably more tentative than he has
sometimes suggested. His thought process on this matter is outlined
in paragraph 155 where he says:
"that was my perception of that in terms
of facing criminal prosecution. John did not go into it in that
length of detail but that would certainly have been my interpretation
as to why I might have risked facing criminal prosecution".
(15) However, Mr Rowley's recollection of
the effect of these "perceived" threats does not accord
with his actions or story at the time. These "threats"
in the hotel, he says, left him disturbed: "obviously that
gave me great concern".
Yet shortly after that very discussion, he met with
Lesley Quinn. She described the meeting:
"I was coming back from the conference to go
to the Balmoral Hotel and I met Alex and his friend Catriona and
Alex mentioned to me that he had had a really good discussion
with John and he felt a lot better because of this. He said nothing...
about any possible criminal prosecution and he was clearly very
happy about whatever conversation he had had with John."
(Statement by Lesley Quinn, 3rd October 2000.)
(16) It appears to be only afterwards, that
Mr Rowley decided that he perceived himself to be threatened.
His ambiguity about whether he perceived threats to be made is
outlined at paragraph 163:
(Mr Rowley) "I discussed it with friends that
he seemed to be making threats towards me..." (emphasis
(17) Moreover, he intentionally or otherwise
misinterprets the context in which these perceived threats
were made when he says:
"... basically telling me that if I told the
truth then certain things may or may not happen" (paragraph
I in fact I had spoken of the consequences if he
did not tell the truth.
(18) The second threat is said to have taken
place during a telephone conversation on the 20th March and
concerned the matter of Mr Rowley's endorsement by the Labour
Party. I do recall this matter being raised by Mr Rowley himself
during the conversation in the Hotel, when he mentioned
it as one of the "rumours" which he had heard from some
people. I have no recollection of it being raised again in any
(18) Mr Rowley, however, clearly told the
Commissioner that the threats were made during the 20th March
call, (Annex 147), the transcript of which has been supplied
to Members of the Committee. I had no recollection of the details
or date of that call until I saw the transcript, and thus no way
of rebutting Mr Rowley's claim on the basis of evidence. The transcript,
however, appears to do just that.
(19) However, Mr Rowley now appears to have
changed his story. In paragraph 164 of his interview
he denied that he had claimed that he was threatening during the
20th March phone call. He said
"I have not suggested that. Certainly I have
not suggested that to the Commissioner. When I made that tape
available I never suggested there was any threat on that particular
tape." (Paragraph 164)
(20) Mr Rowley makes other accusations of
threats which cast still further doubt on the reliability and
credibility of the allegations. He makes allegations, as he
has done previously about "pressure" being brought on
others. These unfounded, damaging and defamatory allegations feature
in Ms Filkin's report. Mr Rowley is the single and sole source
of these sections of the report, so his evidence is crucial.
Asked about them by Mr Bell, he says (at paragraph
"...some of the people, particularly the younger
people...certainly felt under massive pressure."
(21) Under scrutiny, these are revealed to
be based on hearsay and gossip
The source of this information according to Mr Rowley
"What I picked up in Scotland"
And he then adds:
"None of them have actually said they were threatened
Later, when asked if the information on which he
has based a claim of such "pressure" is not "third
hand", Mr Rowley replies:
"...it is perhaps fourth hand, given that I
got it from somebody else." (Paragraph 211)
(22) Mr Rowley then repeats his accusation
against Annmarie Whyte:
"I think, for example the person who is office
manager for the Labour Party in Scotland has not been absolutely
truthful...I think that these young people who were working for
the Labour Party have been put under immense pressure."
This is clearly another unsubstantiated allegation
of pressure to act dishonestly on Annmarie Whyte by unspecified
persons, presumably myself or John Maxton. I deny this unfounded
allegation categorically. What is more important, so does Annmarie
Whyte. In her statement she says:
"I went on Maternity leave on the 15th November
1999. I have not seen John Reid since I came back from maternity
leave on 1st June this year. I remember receiving the letter on
11th February from the Commissioner. I cannot recall if I was
aware then of the investigation and John Reid had never contacted
me. In fact John has never contacted me at all between 11 February
and now." (Statement of Annmarie Whyte, 3rd October 2000)
(23) However, Mr Rowley goes on to tell the
Committee, in another unsubstantiated and unfounded accusation,
something which is verifiably untrue. He says, in paragraph
"The first time Dean Nelson actually contacted
me re this story, I contacted my predecessor, and she said to
me 'tell the truth. Don't get yourself dragged down with this.
You are going for a seat in Central Fife. He is going down, he
is going to want to take people with him', and she told me that
he had asked her only the day before to destroy some evidence..."
It is unclear from this to whom Mr Rowley is referring
to as his predecessor. As General Secretary, his predecessor was
male, Jack McConell. So Mr Rowley is either totally confused again,
or must be referring to his successor, Lesley Quinn. In which
case, he must be alleging that I asked Lesley Quinn to destroy
some evidence. (It is not clear what "evidence" I would
have possibly wanted her to destroy). This is an allegation he
has made before and Lesley Quinn has categorically denied these
allegations by Mr Rowley: she said
"I was never put under pressure by anyone in
connection with the Parliamentary Commissioner's enquiry and I
was never asked to remove any financial information." (Statement
by Lesley Quinn, 3rd October 2000)
(24) However, there is something even more
significant in Mr Rowley's statement, which reveals that it cannot
possibly be true. Mr Rowley alleges that this conversation
occurred when Mr Nelson first contacted him in connection with
this story. This, by his own testimony, was "about a week
and half before the story broke in the newspaper..." (paragraph
158). He then says that he was told that I had asked for some
information to be destroyed "...the day before". He
is very specific on this. He therefor places the alleged events
clearly on a day some 11 days before the publication of Mr Nelson's
story. But I was not alerted to Mr Nelson's story until much later.
I did not find out about the story until the Friday, two days
before publication. Mr Nelson had prepared his story and waited
until the last moment to send me a list of questions. So I could
not possibly have asked for information to be destroyed
more that an week earlier. It appears that Mr Rowley's allegations
are, in this case, obviously and verifiably untruthful.
(25) I did not threaten Mr Rowley. Nor did
I exert pressure on others. Throughout the transcript Mr Rowley
shows himself vague, confused and ambiguous about the nature and
content of the alleged "threats". He was apparently
originally tentative and unsure about the threats which he "perceived"
he had received. He contradicts his own previous evidence on the
telephone transcript and that of Lesley Quinn on the nature of
the hotel meeting. His allegations of "pressure" on
others is revealed as being based on no more than "fourth
hand" information which he "picked up". His allegations
are categorically denied not only by myself, but also by those
who he alleges were victims of the threats and pressure. And his
allegation of pressure to act dishonestly by destroying a document
is not only denied by Lesley Quinn, it quite simply could not
have happened. Mr Rowley is either once again confused or untruthful.
This is the sole basis for the unsubstantiated
allegation which forms what is perhaps the most damaging section
and comments in Ms Filkin's report.
13 November 2000
1 Article from Scotland on Sunday, 12 November
2000, not printed. Back